Democrats flock to state convention

LIHUE — Laurie Cicotello said this is her first time to join the Democratic State Convention, happening this weekend on Oahu, but she’s going all-out.

She’s even running to be a national delegate at the National Democratic Convention, scheduled for July 25-28 in Philadelphia, and to represent Kauai for the State Central Committee.

“I’m hoping to get both of them,” said Cicotello, who lives in Wailua. “I’m a Bernie (Sanders) person, so I’m pretty excited where we could take this thing. There’s so much energy in the party now, with all of these new folks coming in who are starting to understand that there are so many things we need to get done.”

She said it’s her philosophy that the people of America can still effect change, and she’s got her sights set on the middle class.

“We can create change from the ground level, and get change going from the top and hopefully we can meet in the middle,” Cicotello said. “We need to strengthen the middle class and that’s what I look forward to doing.”

The State Democratic Convention kicks off today with opening ceremonies, committee reports and the election of state central committee members, national convention delegates and presidential electors.

Sunday wraps up the convention with more reports, an announcement of today’s election results, the election of the national committeewoman and committeeman, and the state party chairperson.

Joanna Wheeler of Kapaa said this is also her first time joining the State Democratic Convention, and she’s going specifically to support national delegates who will vote for Sanders.

“I’m a mother, and I’m looking for a leader who cares about our future and our children,” Wheeler said.

Her daughter is four years old, and Wheeler said she is going to the state convention to help create a solid future for her child.

“It’s not easy, especially with having to make arrangements for my daughter, but it’s important because it’s about her future,” Wheeler said.

Felicia Cowden of Kilauea is also a newbie to the state convention, but she’s been a Democrat for 30 years.

“I’m looking forward to seeing positive behavior between both camps and I deeply hope that our super delegates will recognize their responsibility to vote with the will of the people,” Cowden said.

Aria Castillo from Kalaheo is a veteran to the state convention and the president of Kauai Young Democrats will again joining the Oahu festivities for the third year in a row.

“I make it a priority and I plan to go,” Castillo said. “This year everyone is so invigorated and excited.”

The 28-year-old works as the business center manager at the Grand Hyatt. She’s looking forward to meeting some of the movers and shakers in the party.

“Everyone who is running as a Democrat will be there — the governor and Sen. Brian Schatz for example, and I’m looking forward to meeting the candidates, and to talk one-on-one with them,” Castillo said.

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